tv Tour of Cedar Rapids Iowa CSPAN March 17, 2019 10:33pm-10:46pm EDT
about truman and his decisions. but what we really want people to do is go home and read more about their history, read more about the presidency, read more about the american government. historic with us to sites, museums, and archives each sunday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern. on our weekly series american artifacts, this is american history tv. >> american history tv joins our partners to showcase the history of cedar rapids iowa. cities, more about the visit our website. we continue with a look at the history of cedar rapids. the spirit of the original .eople still lives on today
the innovation, the spirit, the can-do attitude, the optimism. we were always striving to make cedar rapids. >> we took a driving tour of the city. >> mark stauffer hunter from the history center. thank you for showing us around. >> i am happy to do this. i live and breathe cedar rapids history. >> you are an expert on historic preservation in town. you are also an expert on the hidden history of cedar rapids. all things weird and wonderful. >> i absolutely love the weird and wonderful. the nice layers of history that are underneath the basic facts about cedar rapids. it's buildings and people and stories. >> we are going to see some of that as we drive around. what are some of the places you're going to take us? >> we are going to go to the downtown cedar rapids area. we are going to take a look at ereal mille largest c
in america, quaker oats. we will look at the czech village. we are about to go out to the lincoln highway. the old lincoln highway, which goes from new york to california. >> what would this have looked like back in the early days of cedar rapids? >> notice how we are on top of the hill? this would be a collection of large victorian mansions just like you would see in mississippi river towns. it is hard to picture that now. you would have seen people living in large houses on this hill that we are going down right now. it was a favorite sledding hill for kids. >> it is very snowy. we could go sledding now. >> i am very tempted to do that. we would go right down 2nd avenue. that would be in keeping with what people actually did on the street. >> you cannot come to iowa in the middle of winter and not address that it is very cold here. >> it is very cold. we have to have a lot of
endurance. we are supercold. we get wind chills as cold as 60 below zero. in the summer time, we get heat indexes of up to 120 degrees. >> you are a hearty people. that came into play during the flood of 2008. >> right now, we are driving down the street. if we were on this street 11 years ago, this car would be engulfed in water. it went over the railings. the entire downtown area was covered by the flood of 2008. we have never had such a major natural disaster. it is one of the top 10 natural disasters in united states history. it took the better part of six years to get a lot of the flood damage properties removed. we had 1500 homes that had to be destroyed. we have seen this as a reason to
build cedar rapids bigger and better than before. all of that is post flood redevelopment. >> we are outside of the grant wood studio. who was the end why is this building so important? >> grant wood is the artist behind the second was stricken as bull painting in the world behind the mona lisa. the american gothic painting. we'll know it as the man standing with the pitchfork. he has the baldhead and the glasses. there is a woman standing next to him. a great underlying story behind it. those people are cedar rapids people. >> really? >> the man is the artist's dentist. the joke is on all of us because when i started studying local history, i used to talk to his former patient back in the 1990's.
they said he was the funniest guy they ever knew. when you look at him in the painting, he was really grumpy looking. that is the joke of the artist. he is actually a funny guy. grant wood put his dentist in the painting. the woman is his sister. she was really only 28 years old when the painting was done. she said she was ok with it. she knew that he was not meaning to depict her as an older woman. american gothic was painted in this carriage house, which is owned by our museum of art. he lived upstairs in the loft. american gothic was painted in the hay loft. we are going to go past the history center. the history center started out as a house for the two families that are synonymous with cedar rapids history. the douglases. they started the big quaker oats
plant. we have had oatmeal being made here for 146 years. an important part of my morning. can we go check it out? >> a beautiful view of the quaker oats factory. it started along the train tracks in 1873 by the douglas family. when i was a kid, kids could take tours. it was really fun to see the oatmeal being made. all the cap'n crunch in the world is made right here. >> is it true that sometimes the air smells like crunch barry? >> yes. i am hoping you going to smell crunch berries before you leave. >> is this a big economic driver of the city? >> a huge economic driver. oats was a major crop in this area. this is an old bohemian school on the right. we were a town of mostly german, scottish, irish immigrants.
a family named the sinclair's came here. they wanted to build the largest pork and beef processing plant. they started it in this neighborhood. the packinghouses stink. they needed so many workers that people from the region of bohemia, which is now the czech republic, came here by the hundreds. overnight it changed the makeup. we are completely welcoming to that group. >> what year was this? >> the 1870's was when the diversity of cedar rapids changed overnight. the existing population fully welcomed the bohemian population. they populated this area around the job source. they all came to work. they had their own mini downtown here. kind of like other cities have little italy's or little china. we had little bohemia. as it became a more industrial area, the folks of the neighborhood shifted more
towards the west side. this is a former bohemian movie theater. they had bohemian language films. this is the oldest restaurant and bar in cedar rapids. it has not changed at all since 1934. let's go across the bridge. because of the bohemians, that opened up the door for all other ethnic groups to come to cedar rapids. they were followed by the influx of russian, italian, greek, we had an early middle eastern and muslim population come here in the 1890's. the different backgrounds of faith were welcome as well. very early, we had a reputation of being a very diverse community. this is why the national czechoslovakian library is here. we were such a focus of czech ethnic history. this is czech village.
it was renovated first in the 1970's. new bohemia was seen as the old area. a little it run down. this is more early to mid 20th century architecture. this continued the pattern of bohemian commercial neighborhood that got its start in the east side of the river. we are passing through the neighborhood. >> the wright brothers lived here? >> the wright brothers lived in cedar rapids. they traveled with their father. one time they had a home where the library parking lot is. their father was assigned to cedar rapids for three years. they lived in this neighborhood in downtown cedar rapids. they lived in three different homes. they lived in this neighborhood. they documented where the places were. they went to a school where the public library is now. orville wrote when they were
children, their father brought home a flying toy and then inspired them to start studying flying. that was the inspiration for flight. that happened in cedar rapids. that is one of the earliest sites where the wright brothers lived. >> and former first lady may -- first lady eisenhower lived here. she left before she was a year old. then she went on to live 10 years here in cedar rapids, iowa. she was here because her father was working as a buyer for the sinclair packet house, which was the focus of the new bohemian neighborhood. she spent the first 10 or 11 years of her life in cedar rapids. one of the two homes she lived in is still standing. it is one of the great secrets. her home is on the right. it is the second home on the right.
this is the childhood home of mamie eisenhower. >> why do you think it is important for people to know about the midwest's history and about iowa in cedar rapids? >> the midwest and cedar rapids is at the crossroads of the entire national development movement. we established railroad connections to the east and west coast. we have historic connections to major developments around the night states. all the industry people in stories we have developed here have relevant links to the rest of the united states. >> i am outside the grant wood studio where c-span is learning -- our cities tour staff recently traveled to cedar rapids, iowa. more about cedar rapids and other spots on our tour at
c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> princeton university professor kevin kruse talks about the role of historians on social media and what he feels is their duty to provide context to issues. he also discusses how media consumption has changed since the 1970s. this 13-minute interview was recorded in chicago at the annual american historic association meeting. >> kevin kruse is a professor at princeton university, out with a new book this movement the title, fault lines, a history of america since 1974. what's the premise behind it? >> it comes from a course we taught for a couple of years. that course was developed on the idea that this period in post-1974 history is distinct.